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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Work Attitude and Values Enhancement Ba Kamo?

I have been receiving a lot of requests for proposal to run a “Work Attitude and Values Enhancement Workshop. I have run a couple of similar courses before but I sometimes felt frustrated because the effects are often short-lived if not downright unsuccessful. I reflected and asked my self why and these are the answers I got: (I am very open to comments from those who run the program regarding this)

Employees’ work attitude is more or less influenced by the work environment. If the work environment is bad, it is hard to maintain positive work attitude even for people who are self driven and internally motivated. When people do not like the work environment, they do either of two things; leave or worse, try to live with it. The key word here is “like”, how employees view their work and the work environment has much to do with their ability to produce quality work. This might sound like a sweeping statement, but I would bet that for a good number of people, this is true. If you could distinguish people who are not like what I described and hire them, then you won’t even need a Work Attitude and Values Enhancement Workshop (LOL).

For me (and I am entitled to my own opinion as much as the next Joe) the term “values enhancement” is a misnomer. I am no psychologist or sociologist, but I believe that our values are ingrained in our personality, it is in our character. They were shaped by our experience in the way water shapes the landscape. Changing our own values is probably as hard as redirecting a river. Our values motivate us to do the things we do and influence our decision making especially at times when we have to make forced choices. When an employee is tempted to steal, his decision to do it or not is influenced by what he values. An employee would slack off perhaps because she values relaxation over accomplishment.

What to do then? Here is my Thesis; Work attitude is affected by the work and the environment. A work attitude enhancement program will only work if the employee finds both the work and the environment desirable. We are talking of two things here. The first one is job fit. Are the people you hire suited to the job not only in terms of capability but also in terms of interest and passion? That’s a question you have to ask yourself if you are tasked with hiring people. For the other one, we go to Maslow and Herzberg. People are motivated to work because it answers their need for sustenance, security, sense of belongingness, esteem and actualization. It is therefore important for the employees to recognize that the work environment provides these. The employee should not just see the work as a source of income but a way to find self worth. To do this, the environment should be capable of recognizing the employee as a part of the team and his contribution. The organizational leader should take the lead in making this happen. Herzberg made it quite clear as to what affect people’s motivation in his theory:

Hygiene or Dissatisfies:
Working conditions
Policies and administrative practices
Salary and Benefits
Job security
Fellow workers
Personal life

Motivators or Satisfiers:
Job challenge

I fervently believe that an organizational leader must first look into the different dimensions of the workplace to find out how the organization fare in terms of what Maslow and Herzberg were talking about before seriously considering putting a work attitude enhancement program in place.

Let me know talk about values. I’ve noticed from a number of workshops that I conducted on values and teambuilding that a lot of people do not have a detailed understanding of their own characters. I’ve seen a few who do not have a vision of where they want to be, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what motivates and de-motivates them. And for many, they do not have a list of the things they value. A lot of people do not take much effort to discover them selves. If there is anything that a workshop on values should do is help people discover part of their blind and unknown selves, (JOHARI Window) identify the things they value and help them find alignment between what they value and what the organization values. For example if the employees value family, they should see that the organization is there to help them provide for their families. They should see that the organization’s success spells more opportunity for them to provide for their family. If they value accomplishment, the company is there to recognize their contributions.

In the end, a Work Attitude and Values Enhancement Program, depending on the content may help employees recognize the need to have positive work attitude and values; it is however not the be-all-and-end-all in improving employee productivity and quality. Much needs to be done to see to it that the organizational environment is equipped to promote positive work attitude and that employees find alignment between what they value as a person and what the organization values. A successful program does not begin and end in the class room if you catch my drift.


  1. I'll be back. Take a look at for some great positive attitude tools.

  2. I'll be back. Take a look at for some great positive attitude tools.


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